New June Queen – June 23

Picked up a new queen from Snyder’s.  I’m a bit pissed that she was not marked.  Snyder’s web page says that ALL of their queens are marked. 

I couldn’t bring myself to pinch the original queen from Kevin.  I Polled one frame of resources, 1 frame of 30% capped brood, and 1 frame of mostly built out wax, added two frames of foundation and created the ‘Misty” NUC around the original queen.  We’ll see how this one goes…

NUC03 FEEDER FAIL!!

I’m a bit pissed at Brushy Mountain.  I bought a NUC top feeder to use in exactly this situation.  So now its time to put the feeder on top of a NUC and guess what?  It does not fit!!  Not only does it not fit under a super (to protect it) but because the length of the risers on the feeders is the same as the outside dimensional length of a standard langstroth hive there is not enough space for the bees to get up into the feeder.  This product needs to be pulled from the market!!

I got into the Tardis hive to verify that it was queen right and that the new queen was laying.  Lots of wet larvae in the top box.  Found the queen (still marked) in the bottom box.  While I had the queen in a clip I trimmed back the two frames of fat comb in the bottom box with a serrated knife.  This process really got the bees excited.  I need to remember to smoke them hard the next time I have to do this.

I put the new queen from Snyder’s in the top box of the “Bees Rules” hive, between two frames of untouched foundation (after the fact this may have been a real bad placement for a new queen.   Should have been between frames of larvae/capped brood).

I have been feeding the hives using plastic entrance feeders.  I think that I’m seeing some robbing because of this (trimming honey comb in an open hive probably didn’t help either).  Pulled the entrance feeders and set them in the open in front of the hives.

Busy Bees in Tardis – June 16th

Still waiting to hear from Snyder’s on when they will have a June queen ready for me to replace my original queen.  In the mean time, the Tardis hive seems to be progressing well.  The bottom brood box  has five frames of mostly (20-50%) larvae and capped brood.  There is a lot more drone brood than I would like to see, but the bees know what they want.

The top brood box is being built out with four of the frames of foundation either fully or mostly built out comb.  Four of the frames are still untouched, but the hive is still new and it takes time to build up the worker population.

Caught the queen in the bottom brood box with my spiffy one handed queen catcher and marking plunger.  Added a white mark and let her back into the hive.  The bees were not too happy with her when I released her into the hive.  I hope they don’t reject her.

I didn’t inspect the “Bees Rules” hive this time.  Catching and marking my first queen was enough excitement for one day.

Two hives now… June 8th

 

Note: It is a lot more work to inspect two hives than one little hive.

In the Tardis

Earlier in the week (June 3rd) I got into the Tardis hive to see if the new queen had been released.  She was still in the queen cage, but the bees seemed to have accepted her.  Not knowing that there is a cork in both sides of the queen cage I popped the staple that was holding the screen and released her into the hive.  She is a lot darker than my other queen.  I sure hope I can find her later to mark her. 

The guy at Krantz told me that her line is extremely hygienic and that if I marked her the bees would clean the paint off.  We’ll see.  I’m thinking that he just doesn’t want to deal with the risk of the additional handling and having the mating hive accept her with the paint on.

While the queen was in the cage the rest of the hive was pretty busy building wax and collecting nectar and pollen.  I added the second brood chamber.

Two of the frames in the bottom box have had the wax built too wide to properly squeeze the frames back together.  I’ll have to figure out how to trim these back down to keep the bee space under control with these.

Bees Rules Hive

I’ve decided that I really suck at finding bee eggs.  There is lots of capped brood in areas that I thought were nectar storage.  There are a few frames of foundation in this hive though that the bees don’t seem to want to have anything to do with.  Most notable are the all plastic frames and the ‘plastic green drone’ frame.  I pulled these frames that the bees don’t seem to loke and painted them with melted bees wax.  It will be interesting to see it that makes the difference.

Replacing my Queen

I drove out to Frederick, MD this morning to pick up a new queen from H. T. Krantz.  He doesn’t mark the queens that he sells, so I guess I’ll have to learn how to do that later this summer.  Queens come in little wooden boxes with one hole blocked by fondant (cake icing?)

The plan was to pinch (kill) the original queen and put the new queen (in the wooden cage) into the hive for the bees to get used to her.That was the plan until I opened up the hive to find the old queen.  Somehow she must have figured out that her job was on the line because the hive was in way better shape than it was during last week’s inspection.  The bees had built out wax on all but two of the frames, and the frames with larvae/capped brood had 50 – 70 percent coverage. 

Most of the split frames (partial foundation) had been built out with drone comb on the open sections and worker comb on the foundation sections.  This was exactly what I was hoping that they would do.  Suddenly I was looking at a hive that was performing quite well.  I changed my mind about pinching the queen and decided to do a ‘split’ instead.

The Tardis Hive

I pulled two frames of mostly capped brood and one with nectar/pollen along with one of my partial foundation frames and put them in a new hive, along with the new queen from Krantz.

  I painted this one last winter, but didn’t plan to use it unless I caught a swarm or came across some unexpected source of bees.  The split is only using the bottom box right now, but I will add the other boxes as the hive grows. 

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So now I have two hives.  The original “Bees Rules” hive with the original queen from Kevin and a split that I made with the new queen from Krants.  I think I still need to replace the queen from Kevin this year, but for now she is doing a great job. 

May 20th. Is my queen lazy?

At this point, I have a single hive.  It is two 8 frame deeps.  I started the hive from a five frame NUC on April the 14th.  This should be the peak of the local nectar flow, bit I don’t see these bees taking advantage of the flow.  I’m less than impressed with how much foundation the bees are or are not building out into comb.  The queen seems to just be laying small patches of eggs (although I haven’t figured out how to see eggs yet).

So far, only eight of the 16 frames are comb and the other eight are untouched foundation.  Granted, I did give them a couple of frames of built out comb and they do seem to be making use of it.  Seven of the frames have caped brood or larvae covering 10 – 30 percent of the frames.  One does have about 90% capped brood, so possibly there is hope.

They do seem to be building out a little drone comb in to open area of the split foundation frames that I made.  I’m concerned that there may be performance issues with this queen, so I have a replacement from H. T. Krantz on the way.

According to local lore, this is supposed to be the time of year when the bees are killing it with the pollen and nectar.  Not much evidence of that this week.  The weather probably has not been too cooperative for nectar production.  I wonder if this means a nectar flow that extends further into June or if the flow will happen all in a few weeks and the bees won’t be able to take advantage of it.

May 12th – building wax

The bees seem to finally be working on building some wax.  Two of the foundation frames don’t seem to have been touched and they don’t seem to want to deal with the green drone frame.  Other than that, all of the other 16 frames seem to be built out and in use.

Most frames are 30 – 60 percent covered in capped brood or wet larvae.  None of the solid caped coverage that I see on the internet, but good coverage and not spotty. 

I’m thinking that this queen isn’t too productive.  Ordering a new queen to replace her with.  The new queen should be avilable on May 28th.  Ordered a Pol-Line queen from H. T. Krantz in Frederick.

Screened Bottom Board

There is a lot of discussion on the pros and cons of solid bottom boards vs. screened bottom boards.  I’m not convinced that bees need additional ventilation or that having a screened bottom will reduce mite counts.  However, the screened bottom board that I have has a tray that can be used to examine what is getting dropped in the hive.  I’m guessing that I can get an idea what is going on inside the hive by monitoring these ‘sticky’ boards without having to get into the hive so often.

We should be in the middle of the nectar flow, so in addition to adding the screened bottom board I added a medium super.  I think the bees need to work on the foundation in the brood boxes, but now is when supers should be added.  We’ll see if they needed the super shortly.

Early May Inspection

May 4th inspection.

Starting to see some good coverage or both larvae and capped brood on the frames that had built out wax when the hive was initially assembled.  So far, there does not seem to be much interest in building wax on the foundation frames.  I’m starting to think that these may be lazy bees, but it has been cold and wet most of this Spring.

They could care less about the green ‘drone’ frame.  So far, they have only really built wax on one of the foundation frames.  This was one of my ‘split’ frames.  They do appear to have built drone comb on the open area and have built out worker cells in the area with foundation.

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Reversed the boxes.  Sprayed the foundation frames that have not been touched with syrup/HBH to see if that would get the bee’s attention.

First sting (on finger) lifting a frame out of a box.

First Inspection

I moved the bees/frames from the cardboard NUC back on April 14th.  It has been a couple of weeks since then and it is time to do my first hive inspection.

The new hive is the “Bees Rules” boxes.  The original five frames were moved to an eight frame deep with 3 frames of foundation.  Another 8 frame deep was sat on top with 5 frames of built out comb and three frames of foundation.  Feeding with a 1 quart entrance feeder with 1:1 syrup and honey-b-healthy additive.  Boxes insulated with 1” Styrofoam insulation.

lots of bees in the center frames of both boxes.  Bees are not doing a lot of wax building.  They do have a lot of built out comb, so there isn’t much reason for them to make wax.

Some of the new foundation frames have the ‘front’ 20% of the foundation removed.  The thought process is that the bees seem to want to produce 20% drones and 80% workers in the spring.  This will allow them to build drone comb without having to mess up the worker comb to make room for drones.  The thought is that the bees will use this drone comb area for honey storage over the winter.

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Split Foundation Frame

Bees in the box

Well, the spring weather here in Maryland was a lot colder and wetter than usual.  My bee supplier (prudently) pushed back the delivery date on my NUC from April 1st to April 14th.  The 14th turned out to be a nice day for transferring the NUC to my hive box.  Kevin had taken the precaution of capturing the queen and placing her in a plastic queen cage rubber banded to one of the frames.  This minimized the chances of damaging her while transporting the bees and getting them into the hive.  THis was a real nice touch.

All of the frames in the NUC were fairly well covered by bees.   Mostly, these looked to be younger nurse bees.  I set the entrance to a small two bee wide opening and started moving my minions to their new home.  The foragers were ready to start to work immediately and the front of the hive was busy with orientation flights.

I was able to get a few extra frames of built out comb from my supplier at a very reasonable price.  This made it possible to start with two deep hive bodies, the lower all in built out comb and the upper with half of the frames in comb and the other half with bare foundation.

In the rush to get the NUC moved over, I didn’t do a real close inspection of each of the frames.  I wish I had, because the weather hasn’t been too conducive to getting back in for another look.

The plan for next weekend is to closely inspect the hive and if things look good to add honey supers.  The extra built out comb frames could make this work out for me.